Tom & Matt’s Four-State Road Trip
Day 18 — Saturday, 13th August, 2011 — Rest Day in Hawker, SA; visit to Wilpena Pound

 

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Rest days are good

We don’t usually feel tired at the end of a day’s driving (really long days excepted) but, when we get the chance for a rest day (as we did in Longreach on Day 4 and in Alice Springs on Day 15) we really appreciate it. We get up when we wake naturally instead of setting an alarm. We eat a leisurely breakfast and don’t worry about disturbing each other until after about 10:00am. Sheer luxury!

Today was such a day. Considerably relaxed, we got in the car about 10:30am and cruised downtown. In a place the size of Hawker, that took about 45 seconds! We found the local Information Centre and, apart from having to share the place with a coach-load of high school students from Victor Harbor (about an hour’s drive south of Adelaide), we discovered that the Centre was unstaffed and consisted of nothing more than a few wall posters. Not much help at all.

So we headed out of town towards Wilpena, a little over 50 miles away, figuring we could probaby get lunch there when we needed it.

 

South Flinders Ranges 

The intriguing skyline of the South Flinders Ranges soon swung into view. Somehow photographs never do this sort of scenery justice and seeing it “in the flesh”, as it were, is always a lot better than looking at pictures. But I can only offer you pictures on this blog.

We found our way to the Wilpena Pound Resort. It is largely geared to providing accommodation for two distinct groups of people — keen bushwalkers who wish to explore Wilpena Pound and grey nomads who like to pretend they are keen bushwalkers. These people, depending on their wealth levels, stay in the camping area, in the “eco-cabins”, or in the hotel-like guest house.

We fell into neither category but were able to get quite a good light lunch in the dining room of the guest house.

 

River Gums 

 

 

After lunch, we discussed going for “a bit of a walk”. Having come this far, I wondered if it was possible for me to see Wilpena Pound itself. Matt felt that more than a 15-minute walk was beyond his capabilities or desires. So I set off on my own at a gentle pace.

The first snap I took on my walk was this one. I was impressed by the beauty of these old river gums. I am certainly no expert on trees, but I think I got these right.

 

Pool in mountain stream 

 

The maps showed a walking path to what is known as the Old Homestead and indicated that it should take about an hour to walk each way. I set off, thinking to myself that I would walk as far as I felt comfortable and, if I managed to get into the Pound, great. If not, then I would just enjoy the beauty of the Australian bush.

I came across this delightful pool, complete with a big notice pleading with people not to swim in it! I think that very understandable when you realise just how much wildlife regards that pool as its home.

 

Rocky cliff 1 

 

 

 

The gap through which I was walking (and by means of which I hoped to reach the Pound) was getting narrower and narrower. I took this photo looking up at the steep cliffs on one side of the gap.

 

Rocky cliff 2 

 

 

 

Then I turned to the other side of the gap and took this picture. Because of the trees, it is not possible to see the cliffs so clearly but you can still see that they are both high and steep.

 

Native bee 

 

 

Often the dominant sound was the humming of bees. It took me a while to find them because they are not the usual domestic bees (can you ever call bees domesticated?) but the smaller native bees. I managed to snap this one which you can see, partially hidden, just above the centre of the picture. It was amazing how loud their humming was.

[Nearly two years after writing this blog, I heard from Stanley Dalliston (don’t know where he lives, have never met him) who gave me the helpful information that the plant on which the native bee is grazing is an Australian Native Clematis – Clematis microphylla.]

 

Yellow wildflowers 

 

In my constant quest to find pictures of wildflowers, I snapped this patch of bright yellow flowers. Usual story — no idea what they are; tell me if you can. The same applies to the plant in the previous photo, the one with the native bee on it.

[Stanley Dalliston (see note added to previous picture) also tells me this is a variety of acacia – Acacia tetragonophylla and is popularly known as ‘Dead Finish’ or as ‘Prickly Wattle’. The plant grows in drought affected areas (for example, in the Flinders Ranges and around Arkaroola) and gets its first popular name from the fact that when this wattle is dead, then it is the end for everything else! Thank you for this enlightenment, Stanley. It is appreciated! There is another note from Stanley on the page for Day 16, 11th August.]

 

Path information 

 

At one point the path split into two with this sign suggesting that the path to the left was only 0.8 km* whereas the one on the right was 0.9 km* with each of them promising Wilpena Pound at the end.

Let me tell you, they both lied!

I took the shorter path (I was beginning to tire a little by now) and discovered (a) that it was quite steep with a loose gravel surface that made walking difficult; and (b) I think the decimal point and the zero should have been omitted! It felt much more like eight kilometres!*

Not only that, when I got to the end of it, I was STILL not able to see Wilpena Pound!

* 0.8 km is just under half a mile; 0.9 km is almost 0.6 mile; 8 km is almost 5 miles.

 

Walking path bridge 

 

 

 

At the end of the path I followed, I came to this little bridge across the stream that had created the gap. You cn see that the sides of the gap were now much lower, but still no view of the Pound.

Just a little way beyond the other end of the bridge, I met up with the other path (the one advertised as 0.9 km) and followe it back to the division point photographed earlier.

 

The Old Homestead 

 

 

Nearby was the Old Homestead. At least they got that part of the story right. And I do have to say that the bushland through which I had been walking was very pleasant and, on this cool-ish August day, very enjoyable.

I could find no explanation for what the Old Homestead was all about. Undoubtedly it was the site of an earlier settlement but I can tell you nothing more than that.

 

Bushwalking path 

 

 

 

Here is a shot of the walking path near the Old Homestead. Now doesn’t that look inviting?

 

Mountain stream 

 

 

 

Here is a shot that tries to capture the little stream beside which I was walking all the way. I’m afraid it doesn’t do it justice. The tan-coloured areas are actually stream water and the one thing no photo can capture is the charming babbling sound the stream makes.

 

 

Walkway across stream 

 

 

 

At this point the park rangers had built a walkway that wound its way across the stream, avoiding the holes and rocks and making it much easier than walking on the rock surfaces would have been. There was a lot of evidence here and elsewhere that the park rangers have really given a lot of care and thought to the way visitors interact with this peaceful bushland.

 

Geological outcrop 

 

 

 

At one point on my walk back, I took this photo as it shows the geological strata that are an integral part of the Wilpena Pound, even though I had not seen the Pound for myself.

How can I enjoy this place so much when I was frustrated in my efforts so see the actual Pound itself?

 

The entire walk took me about 2½ hours which, considering the times I stopped to take photos (yes, and to get my breath back!) was about right. In distance I probably walked the best part of ten km*. At the end of it I still felt pretty good, considering how unfit I know myself to be. I do have to admit, however (since I am writing this more than 24 hours later) that the next day I paid for my efforts with aching joints and muscles.

But I do have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed my outing, even if I am still actually to see Wilpena Pound for myself. The link to it that I gave above (and again here) gives you quite a bit of information about it.

* Ten km is roughly 6.25 miles.

 

 

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Want to respond to this or something else on this site? Contact me by e-mail: pardy@ozemail.com.au